Maasai Mara – Meeting the Local

Phu Quoc, 11 September 2018

(Last Part)


We chose to forgo the early morning game drive on our last day in Maasai Mara in trade for a late morning start. The eyes were tired, the skins were burnt, the bodies full of bruises were aching. We felt like some warriors after a long march.

Steven was rather skeptical about visiting a Maasai Village. The ones we saw on photos looked too perfectly set up – all the Maasai dressed up in their finest clothes and jewelry, their sharp spears by their sides. Despite that, I wanted to go. It took me by surprise as we walked to the village right outside the resort. A sight of run down rural life –  a few houses circling a big square centered by a Mara tree, cow dung smell everywhere, children playing in the dirty land and a bunch of Maasai men outside their gates waiting for the guests. The women had then made themselves busy with all the tasks they needed to do – water carrying, house building, cooking, washing, souvenir making, farming, etc. Most men and the old kids had taken the cows out for the day.

Peter, the sun of the village chief welcomed us to his village. The Maasai village may consist of one or more family, each shall have their own gate. The women built the houses from cow dung, dust and some fences. Every 7-9 years they would put their houses to rest and move. The house is extremely dark with only a little window of the size of my palm and it’d be cover at night to prevent mosquitos. There is a bed for the parents, a bed for the children and a guest room. The house would be warm and lifted at night by the fire. We sat in the dark for a while chatting with Peter and one of his cousins. He told us this was his mother house. When his father slept here, he would need to go to another house to sleep.  It’s the tradition.

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Each Maasai man can have many wives, the first of whom was chosen for him by his parents. Peter’s father has 6 wives. For each wife, the dowry is around 10 cows (equivalent to some 3000 US$). I laughed as Steven explained that in Vietnam we’d respect the lady’s choice and her family’s acceptance instead of just putting them in a stranger’s house. The Maasai men need to kill a lion to become men. Peter told us around 20 of them would go to the wood and kill a lion, take its teeth and left the rest to the nature. Sometimes, lions come down to the village at night and take a cow, they would let the King do so.

We attended somewhat a rather “touristy” ceremony – the old man making fire and the young ones started to made some low vibrating sounds and dance. Steven and Jude (boys) were invited for the dance while Christabelle and I cheered for them. Then they started the jumping contest. In the real ceremony, the one that jump the highest would win and get some discount for the dowry.

Well, at the end, it wasn’t that touristy I thought.

Time to head back to the capital city for my hair do!

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